***Post written by Sarah Perkins, President and Membership Chair of WSPA***
This unprecedented pandemic and the subsequent quarantine have changed daily life and work for all of us. I am so impressed by the effort and care that educators across my city, our state, and our country are showing as they work to ensure that students can continue to learn and feel connected to their schools. I have found myself questioning my role in this as I watch teachers scramble to develop remote learning lessons and creative ways of engaging, like reading stories in videos and arranging “teacher parades” that drive through the neighborhood.
I don’t need to plan lessons and my district has placed a hold on all special education meetings so there is no need to organize those or prepare for them. I have a few students with whom I worked individually, but in order to avoid overwhelming families, only homeroom teachers have been reaching out so far. So how can I help? I feel so blessed that my family continues to receive paychecks during this time, but I want to contribute to my students and colleagues as well.
Our district has only been actively working on transitioning to online learning for the past week and this next week is “spring break” (it seems to deserve quotation marks in this bizarre circumstances), so I am still feeling out my role. The one thing I have returned to is my belief that the bedrock of my job is support. I am supporting my teams by offering a structure, place, and person for discussion and even venting. I am offering support by asking the questions of leadership that everyone has but may not feel comfortable voicing. I am repeating to everyone that all we can do is try and learn and grow and no one will perfect this new paradigm today, tomorrow, or maybe ever. But most importantly, I am offering support by envisioning and planning for the future.
The silver lining of this horrifying pandemic is it forces all of us to step back from our daily lives, take a breath, and look at what was working and what could be changed. Are there projects I can do now that will help with the inevitably chaotic transition back to physical schools, whenever that occurs? Are there processes that are being streamlined now that we can carry forward with us? Teachers are actively working on student learning and engagement for today. The least I can do is support them and keep an eye on a brighter future.
On that note, the Commissioner of Education for Maine recorded a lovely message for her state that I found uplifting. I hope you do too.